Questions Remain About Injured Employees After Hazmat Incident

SPOKANE, Wash. – Confusion and questions remain at Pacific Steel and Recycling a day after a container that contained chlorine gas ruptured, sickening eight employees, leaving several of them in critical condition.

The incident happened Wednesday morning when a metal container ruptured and released chlorine gas into the air. By the time the gas settled more than two dozen people were affected by exposure to the gas, and several were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Pacific Steel and Recycling President and CEO Jeff Millhollin said Thursday in his more than 15 years in the business, he’s never seen anything like this happen, and his company is now working to figure out what the chemical was, why it was at the plant and to look after the workers injured in the accident.

“Something back in our scrap metal processing area ruptured and we do know it was a yellowish greenish puff of something came up int he air. How it got opened or what it was, none of that stuff we don’t know yet,” he said.

Officials say the gas is chlorine based and tests are underway to determine exactly what it is but what is certain is that whatever it was, it wasn’t supposed to be there at all.

“We don’t accept hazardous material we have a whole prohibited material list, we don’t accept and we don’t buy,” Millhollin said.

Millhollin himself can’t go into the hot zone as the investigation and clean-up are the priority right now, but Pacific said it hopes to be allowed back in the area Friday so they can begin to put the pieces of what happened together.

The Department of Labor and Industry is investigating the accident.